“FMCSA is aware that while many medical examiners have submitted results of examinations conducted while the National Registry was offline, others still have not done so,” said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in its pre-publication notice released in the Federal Register. “FMCSA estimates that approximately 14,000 medical examiners still have examinations results to upload.”
This statement comes as federal regulators are requesting around 14,000 medical examiners to submit missing truck driver exam results, an issue arising half a year after an inspector general audit was conducted by the Department of Transportation.
These results were said to be missing following a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners system outage which occurred after a cyberattack effort. Now, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has formally requested this missing information, noting that it is now clear that a “significant number” of medical examiners have yet to submit their exam results from examinations taking place between December 2017 and August 2018, when the registry was down.
FMCSA has requested that examiners upload their missing information by the end of September of this year.
“FMCSA seeks up to 780,000 driver exams from [the] 2017 National Registry shutdown,” announced FMCSA in a recent tweet.
In the inspector general audit from January 15th, it was made clear that a myriad of data accuracy- and efficiency-related weaknesses were able to “limit the effectiveness of FMCSA’s oversight.” These holes in the monitoring methods of medical examiner qualifications by federal regulators showed that these efforts were not able to accurately determine whether or not a trucker’s physical and safety qualifications were up to standards.
Additionally, the entire registry system was removed from its online platform following a potential registry hack occurring in December of 2017.
“Unfortunately, during the outage, medical examiners were not able to access their National Registry accounts to upload results of examinations conducted,” explained FMCSA in its announcement. “Medical examiners were encouraged to continue conducting physical qualification examinations and issuing medical examiner’s certificates to qualified commercial motor vehicle drivers.”
The National Registry includes a list of all certified medical examiners, including more than 50,000 physicians that have been deemed qualified to conduct physicals on commercial vehicle drivers by the FMCSA. Additionally, all qualified medical examiners must be licensed within the state in which they conduct all of their examinations. They must also pass a mandatory test and meet all necessary requirements relative to training.
In FMCSA’s updated registry mandate, all medical examiners must now report each individual commercial driver’s physical exam results from June of 2018 on. These results must also include those regarding exams in which a driver was deemed not sufficiently qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely.
At the time of FMCSA’s announcement, the agency also explained that it was made clear to all examiners that they would need to efficiently prepare and submit all examinations conducted throughout the outage separately, and that once the system was finally operating properly once again, these missing exam results would need to be uploaded as soon as possible.
A physical exam conducted by a qualified medical practitioner is valid through the Department of Transportation for up to two years. Additionally, the examiner is able to issue an exam certificate that would be valid for a shorter period of time if a particular condition in a driver requires regular monitoring. Typically, exam results must be submitted to the National Registry system by midnight of the day following the examination itself.
Because technology issues have apparently been an issue for FMCSA in the past, the agency has proposed delaying the redesign of its National Registry for four years, although the system is currently operating adequately. The National Registry website platform was first implemented by FMCSA in April of 2021, and medical examiners have since been required to upload a commercial motor vehicle Driver Medical Examinations Results Form (MCSA-5850) for every physical exam conducted throughout the entirety of the previous month. This is applicable for any examination of any driver required to undergo examinations by an examiner listed on the registry itself.
In 2015, this mandate was amended to require examiners to report their results by the next calendar day, including results in which a driver was not deemed qualified.